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Texas leaning toward fascism?

Posted by Stephen on February 3, 2007

 

If Texas lawmaker Wayne Smith (R-Baytown) has his way the police will be checking to see if you’ve made it to your last PTA meeting.

 

According to an AP report Smith has proposed a law that would require every parent of a student in the public school system to attend every PTA meeting. The penalty for missing a meeting with your child’s teacher could cost you a $500 fine and a criminal record.

 

The Texas Republican has filed a bill that would charge parents of public school students with a Class C misdemeanor and fine them for playing hooky from a scheduled parent-teacher conference, according to the AP report.

 

Rep. Wayne Smith said Wednesday he wants to get parents involved in their child’s education.

 

“I think it helps the kids for the parents and teachers to communicate. That’s all the intent was,” Smith said. “The concept is to get parents in the classroom,” he said.

 

Government dictating to parents how they approach private voluntary meetings between a parent and a teacher is one issue that Smith is using poor judgment to address, but to turn such a meeting into a reason to create a police state that inserts itself into private decisions regarding how a parent educates their child smells of fascism, and at best is misguided.

 

Kathy Carlson, a fifth-grade teacher at Furneaux Elementary School in
Carrollton, Texas winced at the idea of a criminal charge.

 

“I don’t know if we need to call it criminal. I would rather see accountability brought a different way, rather than fines or punishments,” Carlson said.

 

“On the whole, parents want what’s best for their kids,” she said, adding, “Sometimes I think they think we’re out to get them. When you’re talking about fining and pressing criminal charges, it kind of reflects that attitude.”

 

Under Smith’s bill, schools would send parents a notice for a meeting with three proposed dates by certified mail. If parents don’t respond or schedule a meeting and don’t show without prior notice, they could be punished. Parents could avoid prosecution if they have a “reasonable excuse” for not showing up. State education officials or local school districts would probably be responsible for defining reasonable.

 

Parents in Texas already can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if their child is skipping school and they are deemed responsible for the truancy. Smith’s bill would seem to face long odds to becoming law.

Rep. Rob Eissler, a Republican from The Woodlands who chairs the House Public Education Committee, has said he’s concerned about how it would be enforced.

 

It would seem reasonable to assume such a practice would fail any form of constitutional measurement, even at a state level. However, the
United States is coming perilously close to shredding her guiding document. Some might argue that the day former Texas Republican Congressman Tom Delay led a charge for the federal government to insert itself in the private affairs of the Shivoe family the idea of small government run by the people was abandoned for a level of arrogance unprecedented in American history.

 

Could there be another agenda in play?

 

Carlson said she used to teach at a school in Irving with many children of illegal immigrants. “They were afraid to come to parent-teacher conferences because they were almost afraid of the authority,” of the school district, she said.

 

Could the Texas legislature be attempting to create an additional tool for rounding up illegal immigrants? If Carlson’s assertions are correct and illegal immigrants will not come forward, it will be an opportunity to charge them with a criminal offense making deportation that much easier.

 

Whatever the agenda might be, if this law were to pass one might expect to be prepared for a backlash from citizens that still believe they have a right to make decisions about their families, education, faith, and lifestyles which, simply put, are not the business of a self indulged politician in Texas named Wayne Smith.

 

To be sure, Smith’s intentions are the best. Unfortunately, Smith has no right to impose his vision of how life should be lived by abusing his power as a legislator.

 

Let us hope that the democracy our forefathers fought for and our framers described in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, is still strong enough to fend off an effort to abuse government power no matter how well intended the effort may be.

 

Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.

 

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